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McCullum, bowlers blast New Zealand to comfortable win

By Reuters - Dec 29,2014 - Last updated at Dec 29,2014

A once in a lifetime innings from Brendon McCullum and high quality seam bowling ensured New Zealand completed an eight-wicket victory over Sri Lanka on Monday to take a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.

McCullum’s Test began terribly by losing his sixth toss in nine matches as captain in New Zealand and being asked to bat on a green Hagley Oval pitch by Angelo Mathews.

Sri Lanka then reduced New Zealand to 88 for three, the last time the visitors were truly in the game as McCullum strode to the wicket.

He proceeded to blast 18 boundaries and 11 sixes in an innings that came one blow away from becoming the fasTest Test double century scored.

That he was caught in the deep for 195, just 3 hours and 20 minutes after he walked out to the middle, with the score on 367 for five in the 66th over emphasised the impact he had made.

Jimmy Neesham (85) then took up where McCullum left off as the hosts scored an incredible 429 runs on the first day.

“The talent and shotmaking and ability that Brendon has got was on display,” New Zealand bowling coach Shane Bond told RadioSport. “I always thought 300 would be a good score on that pitch, for him to give us 440, it gave us plenty to attack them and it proved to be the crucial innings of the match.”

 

Quality attack

 

New Zealand’s first innings of 441 was then followed up by a superb spell of opening bowling as Tim Southee and Trent Boult worked in tandem to reduce Sri Lanka to 15 for three.

Coupled with the bustling aggression from first change bowler Neil Wagner, who ran through the tail, the visitors were skittled out for 138.

“They have been outstanding every game for about a year and a half now... so we know the quality of them and they keep displaying that [quality],” Kane Williamson said of Boult and Southee who have taken 34 and 33 wickets respectively in 2014.

“Winning games you need to take 20 wickets and while they have been outstanding you also have the likes of Wagner who comes on at first change and just does a hell of a job for us when the wicket gets a bit flatter.

“The three of them have been really good for us.”

While there was some debate as to whether New Zealand should enforce the follow-on, McCullum was adamant his bowlers were keen to have another crack at the Sri Lankan batsmen.

“Both Tim and Trent were emphatic they wanted to bowl,” McCullum said. “We’d only bowled about 40-odd overs and felt the pitch still had a bit in it.

“So certainly no doubts about enforcing the follow on.”

Sri Lanka adapted better in their second attempt, with Dimuth Karunaratne producing a patient innings to score his maiden Test century as the visitors inched towards the end of the third day on 277 for three.

Boult, however, then struck with a beautiful delivery that bowled Karunaratne and then dismissed Niroshan Dickwella that reduced the visitors to 287 for five by the close.

Southee then took three quick wickets early on Monday before a last-wicket, 59-run stand from Shaminda Eranga and Suranga Lakmal frustrated New Zealand’s bowlers, and pushed the victory target out past 100.

Williamson and Ross Taylor, however, calmly guided the hosts to a victory after tea.

“Credit has to go to Sri Lanka with their batting in the second innings and to take it into day four and then make us chase down a tricky little total,” McCullum said.

“I think that’s the fifth Test win of the year which we’re pretty proud to achieve. It was an all around good performance.”

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